What Is The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana regulations public hearings

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance Is Fighting For Medical Marijuana In Massachusetts

Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance works with medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and other public health groups to support safe access to medical marijuana for people who have a doctor’s recommendation.

We are a primarily volunteer driven group, and our focus is on legislative reform. While we work in coalition with other NGOs, our strength is in the number of individual volunteers who work together to visit legislators, maintain a presence in the press, conduct panel discussions in communities across the state, and educate their own communities about urgent need for safe access to medical marijuana for people suffering with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, severe chronic pain, ALS, and other serious conditions.


There is a subpopulation of people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic pain and other debilitating illnesses for whom existing medications are ineffective or cause dangerous side effects. For many of these patients, medical marijuana can provide a superior treatment alternative. Under current policies, many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana are denied access altogether. Those who decide to seek medical marijuana on the street face not only the dangers inherent to the criminal market, but also prosecution from law enforcement. Patients who grow their own medical marijuana face being charged with possession with intent to distribute, which can lead to civil penalties beyond the criminal charge, including eviction from public housing and loss of custody of children.


H. 625/ S. 1161 would establish legal protection for seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana with the recommendation of their doctor. It allows patients to grow a limited amount of their own medicine, or obtain it through a system of state regulated treatment centers. It limits the conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended to include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, post traumatic stress disorder, or any chronic or debilitating medical condition or disease that produces wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms, and certain other serious illnesses. It includes multiple levels of state oversite, requiring the Department of Public Health to:

- Review recommendations
- Issue licenses to qualifying patients
- License and regulate no more than 19 treatment centers across the state


“The accumulated data suggest a variety of indications, particularly for pain relief, antiemesis, and appetite stimulation. For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy, and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication." (Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, Insitute of Medicine, 1999.)

Clinical studies commissioned by the California legislature and completed by the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California, most of which have been FDA approved, double-blind, and placebo controlled, have have found that medical marijuana can provide relief for patients experiencing pain from nerve damage associated with injury, HIV, and multiple sclerosis. (Report to the Legislature and Governor of the State of California, Center for Cannabis Research, University of California, 2010.)

A 2004 study found that “nearly all of the 33 published controlled clinical trials conducted in the United States have shown significant and measurable benefits in subjects receiving the treatment.” (Aggarwal et al. Medicinal Use of Cannabis in the United States: Historical Perspectives, Current Trends, and Future Directions. Journal of Opiod Management, 2009.)

A study of results from unpublished clinically controlled trials completed by state departments of health in six states included 1,093 patients and found that “Patients who smoked marijuana experienced 70-100% relief from nausea and vomiting." (Richard Musty and Rita Rossi. Effects of Smoked Cannabis and Oral THC on Nausea, 2001.)

“[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” (Dr. Jerome Kassirer, Federal Foolishness and Marijuana, New England Journal of Medicine, 1997.


Plymouth Public Library
Saturday January 21, 11:00 Am

Harwich Public Library
Saturday January 28, 10:30 Am

Boston Public Library
Wednesday February 1, 6:00 PM
Room CO 5. Enter building from Boylston St.

Fall River Public Library
Saturday February 4, 2:00 PM

In the summer we organized impressive testimony about the medical marijuana proposal House Bill 625 and its twin Senate Bill 1161. Dozens of medical marijuana patients afflicted with severe chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other serious diseases and conditions testified to the committee about the need for safe access to what for many is a more effective medicine than other alternatives.

We were joined by representatives from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, AIDS Action Committee, ACLU, Mass. Bar Association, and medical experts. We also submitted testimony from doctors and the Mass. Nurses Association.

We've reached a new landmark in our campaign by demonstrating broad support among the public health community and the voting public for making Massachusetts the 17th medical marijuana state. Since the hearings we've been following up with each committee member to urge them to support medical marijuana reform. We hope the committee will soon take favorable action on our bills.

We invite you to join us at one of our next meetings to learn more about what we've been up to, what we're doing to make sure these bills are passed, what alternatives we have planned if the legislature fails to act, and how you can help. Go to the CONTACT page to sign up for e-mail alerts about events and other important upcoming dates.